When a couple has a child then decides to separate or divorce, the topic of “child custody” or “parenting time” has to be addressed. The best way to approach this is to create a parenting plan, which is a written document that outlines how parents will raise their child and deal with various situations. It should have enough detail to be useful, without being so inflexible that it becomes unrealistic to implement and follow through on.
A parenting plan can help reduce conflict by outlining guidelines and expectations. Less chance of conflict means children will be able to cope better with the separation or divorce. It can also alleviate the stress of the separation or divorce if kids observe that their parents are cooperating and doing their best to get along.
It is a good idea to consider the age of your child and how well you are able to communicate and co-parent when determining how specific your parenting plan should be.
The main areas outlined in a parenting plan include:
-> When each parent will care for the child
-> Who will make decisions going forward with regard to the children (jointly or individually, and if the other parent is to be consulted)
-> How information will be shared and communicated between the parents
Parenting plans also include how various other issues will be addressed such as:
Living arrangements and parenting schedules
– Will the child live in one residence or move between two homes?
– Will the parents live within a certain distance from each other for convenience?
– What happens if one parent moves away?
– Details re: drop-off and pick-up times and locations, as well as who is responsible
– Childcare arrangements
– How children will communicate with the other parent when not with them
– How changes to parenting schedules should be dealt with
Vacations & Special Holidays
– Determine which household the child will be during summer vacation and other school breaks, as well as on holidays
– Arrangements for other significant days such as birthday’s, weddings, funerals, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day
– How will decisions be made regarding medical and dental?
– Who will take the child to their appointments?
– How will parents notify each other should an emergency occur?
– Decisions about where the child will go to school
– Who will attend school events and parent-teacher conferences?
– Payment and consent for school trips
– Reasons for missed days at school
– If one parent wants to travel with the child, will they give notice to the other parent?
– Is written consent required to take the child out of the country?
– Who keeps the child’s passport?
– Changes and problems with parenting plan
– What will be the process for making changes to the parenting plan?
– How will disagreements be resolved re: the parenting plan?
– What types of activities will the child participate in?
– Who will pay?
– Who will provide transportation?
– Decisions re: religious denomination and activities.
– Decisions re: events, activities, language
– Grandparents and extended family
– When will visits take place?
– Who will be there?
Various other parenting issues such as safety, discipline, use of phone, diet, photographs, pets, introducing the child to new partner etc.
As you can see, a parenting plan can make the transition period from married to separated / divorced much easier, as well as serve as an excellent guideline going forward as your child grows up.
It is a great idea to consult with a Mediator or Collaborative Divorce Lawyer if you need help reaching an agreement and also to ensure that you have all of your bases covered. Call Rahul at Clean Divorce today!